Home Æ - panel (The Lid) - Number and value of the runes

Runes none should grave ever who knows not to read them
Of dark spell full many the meaning may miss. (Egils saga c. 75)

  Æsc biþ oferheah,   eldum dyre
  stiþ on staþule,   stede rihte hylt,
  ðeah him feohtan on   firas monige.

Has the carver refrained from rune magic by not commenting on the event? The only runes here are the ones that form the archer's name Ægil(i). The anlaut (1st letter) Æ, A-Rune, suits this panel just as well as F, R, T and H did on the other panels. The rune for Æ is A-Rune, and the Runic Poem says about it:

  The ash is exceedingly high and precious to men.
With its sturdy trunk, it offers a stubborn resistance,
though attacked by many a man.

The rune does not only comment on strong defence, it also alludes to Yggdrasil, and thus, perhaps, to the final battle. No other rune would suit the picture better than this one.

As no detail is merely ornamental the five dots around the blank disk will mean something, may be a rune. If it is, it would be r-Rune, which stands in accordance with fight and valkyrian assistance. Furthermore the value (5) of the rune r-Rune added to the value of the name Ægili, which is 76 (a fairly meaningless value all by itself), results in 81 and that is 9 x 9! There are a few more dots inserted. May be they are telling something about the nature or the fate of the gang of enemies.

Apart from his emblematic purpose, archer Ægil may have had a second function. In those days, pictures were used not only to encourage but also to deter. In case of a hoard box with feohgift as its contents it should not be too difficult to guess what from!


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